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FAA bans recalled MacBook Pro models from all flights due to battery issue

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has banned some Apple MacBook Pro laptops from flights due to a potential fire hazard posed by their batteries.

Apple issued a recall in June 2019 for any 15-inch MacBook Pro sold between September 2015 and February 2017, saying the units “contain a battery that may overheat and pose a safety risk.” It is these units that the FAA has now decided to ban from flights.

The watchdog says it has alerted major U.S. airlines to the recall, adding that it has reminded them to adhere to 2016 safety guidelines prohibiting recalled batteries from being taken on flights in either the cargo hold or as carry-on luggage. Earlier this week, four airlines (Air Italy, Air Transat, Thomas Cook Airlines, and TUI Group Airlines) banned the recalled MacBook Pro models from their flights, according to Bloomberg News.

The FAA is not the only organization to issue guidance about the recalled MacBooks. Earlier in August 2019, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency released a warning about the affected devices, explaining that any such devices must be switched off and not used or charged for the duration of the flight. Passengers were also advised to inform the cabin crew immediately if their device became hot, was damaged, produced smoke, got lost, or fell into the plane’s seat structure.

The stance of the FAA and the four airlines listed above, however, is more restrictive than that of its European counterpart. TUI Group said it would start making announcements about the affected laptops at airport gates and before takeoff, ensuring customers are aware of the restrictions. However, laptops with replaced batteries won’t be affected, the company said.

Think your MacBook Pro may be affected? Apple advises you to click the Apple logo in the top-left of the screen, then click About This Mac. If the resulting window says your device is a “MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015),” it may be affected. You should then copy its serial number from the window and enter it on Apple’s product recall page to see if you think you need to take action.

Fortunately, Apple will replace affected batteries free of charge. According to Bloomberg, roughly 432,000 MacBook Pro models sold in the U.S. are affected by the recall, with a further 26,000 sold in Canada falling under the scope of the recall. The number of affected models in Europe is currently unknown.

The MacBook Pro certainly isn’t the first consumer tech device to be banned from flights due to faulty batteries. Back in 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation banned the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 from all American flights due to its defective battery, which had the potential to catch fire or explode.

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